Staying ahead of the competition should begin now. As the business down the street begins to wind down the year, this is the most opportune time to reflect, review, renew, and re-invigorate your own business.
As December comes to a close and people start vacations and time away from the office, it’s the perfect time to see what went right during the past year, what went wrong, what you meant to do, what you shouldn’t have ever done, and what changes need to be made.
Speak to your team and get feedback first. These are your most important assets. From the warehousemen to the drivers, from the installers to the sales team and to the office personnel. They are in it day in and day out. They are your front-line. They see your customers from prospect to buyer, and from purchase to pick-up. They speak to them after purchase and before purchase.
Next, speak with your customers. Who purchased the most from you? How’d they find you? Why do they buy from you? What are they happy with and what are their pains? What are they forecasting for the upcoming year? There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways you can probe and prod. But remember to be tactful. Yes, if you’re asking, they’ll already know that you care. But take it toa level above. where they’ll also know that you are interested in their day-to-day business and how you can help.
Clean your desk of all unfinished business. Employee reviews, unfinished projects, financial closings and close-out liquidations should all be coming to end and plans must be in place to close your current year in the strongest manner poassible. Review your business plan for the current year and tie up all loose ends. Whip your team into shape and coach them into finishing the year better than last. Contact your most valuable customers for final year-end deals.
Work on editing and fine tuning your revised business plan for next year. Plan for changes that need to be made to the things that didn’t work in the past year. Brainstorm for ideas that would improve what you did last year. Plan all twelve months taking into account your schedule for this past year. What do you need to do to accomplish your big hairy audatious goals (BHAGs) during the next twelve months. Who needs to be on board? What type of role will you play? What role will they play? Have all of your employees and even your customers help. You don’t need to show them your plan, but you shouldd tell them how they helped. It will not only help in your relationships with them, but it will also make you more accountable and likely to achieve what you set out to accomplish.
Most likely, this all happened while your competitor up the street was sleeping or on vacation!